Don't call a plumber

Have you ever called a plumber to fix a leaky water pipe in your kitchen, and when he arrived you told him not to use his tools and training to repair the problem?

Well, consider the person who did just that, telling the plumber who responded to her call for help, “I know it’s probably the worst leak you’ve ever seen. Dangerous, actually. But,” she continued with a few batts of her  mail-order eyelashes. “Can’t you just talk to my pipe? I’m sure it’ll simply fix itself if you talk nicely to it.”

Meanwhile, both she and the plumber were soaked to the gills. The steadily rising water filled the house until it finally burst through the front door. Torrents of roiling and boiling whitewater rushed down the front steps like the falls on Flat Rock Pond. Kids used metal garbage can lids as kayaks in the lawn lake. The woman’s dog somehow managed to climb onto the roof and her goldfish were jumping like dolphins in the wake trailing the trash can tops. It was outright chaos, and it all happened within a blink of an eye.

“No, ma’am,” said the plumber. “Talkin’ ain’t gonna git it done this time. I’ve already been here three times this weekend—”

“But, I love my pipes,” she said. “They’re good pipes. Please try talking to them. Just once more …”

Her tears dropped into the knee-deep pond that swirled and twirled and bubbled around her legs like a Bermuda Triangle whirlpool. The once tiny leak was then gushing like a geyser that would shame Old Faithful.

But the master of cold on the right, hot on the left, and the yucky stuff don’t run uphill, knew there’s no other way. They’d both drown if he didn’t do something. So he reached into his tool bag and came out with “Big Red,” the best 24-inch pipe wrench Sears and Roebuck had ever sold on clearance. He swallowed hard once and then turned to face the trouble.

This is what he was trained to do and he reacted without fear or hesitation. A quick side-step, a firm grasp on the valve with his left hand, a lightning fast strike with the wrench, and it was over. The chaos ceased and his adrenaline level subsided. He took a deep breath. Then …

“MY BABY!” shouted the woman. “You hurt my baby!”

Sound silly? Well, hold on a second. Police officers face similar circumstances nearly every day of their lives. People who are in danger at the hand of loved ones call 911 begging for help. They fear physical harm and/or death. They’re scared for their family members.

Sometimes they’re so distraught you can almost smell the fright over the phone lines. But, when the boys and girls in blue come sliding to a stop in the driveway, with lights winking and blinking and sirens squalling and wailing, well, this is what they often encounter, starting with the initial call for help.

“911, do you have an emergency?”

“Help me! Little Johnny has a gun and he’s been pointing it me and Jimmy Billy. Twern’t loaded at first but now it is and he done lost his what little sense he had. He ain’t taken his crazy medicine in pert’near a week. I’m skeert for our lives. And Maw ain’t here to talk to him.”

“I’m sending someone right away.”

“Good. We’s all locked in the bathroom now, ’cause that little bastard’s a shootin’ up the place. He’s teched in the haid, I tell you. Gets it from my wife’s side of the family. They’s all one seed short of makin’ a whole watermelon.”

BANG! BANG!

“Thar he goes agin. Please hurry!”

“Sir, stay on the line. Officers are on their way.”

“Yes, ma’am. Got nothin’ else to do but duck.”

Three officers arrive and they’re met by Little Petey Paul who’s made his way outside and is standing in the gravel driveway holding his father’s old revolver.

Keep in mind, though, that the Little Petey Pauls of the world never seem to be small in stature. They’re typically 6’2″, 235, foaming at the mouth, with both eyes are spinning like tops. And, of course, they’re shirtless, barefoot, and highly UN-medicated.

As always, this is the time when dear old Maw comes driving up in family pickup truck, a 4×4 with a gun rack in the rear window and a sticker on the bumper that reads, DRIVER CARRIES NO CASH, JUST A BULLET FOR YOUR ASS!

The family matriarch jumps out of the truck and tosses the remainder of her non-filtered cigarette into a pile of empty beer cans beside the plywood cutout of granny bending over in the flower garden. One officer goes to meet her, keeping her out of harm’s way.

Other officers draw their weapons and order the human anvil to drop his handgun. Instead, the human stump points the .357 at the officers. He grinning like the possum the family had for supper the night before. The lead officer starts talking.

“Please put down the gun, son. We just want to help you. Everything’s gonna be okay. I promise.”

“Don’t you hurt my baby boy!” Maw screams” He’s a good boy. Just talk to him.”

Little Petey Paul licks the barrel of the pistol, then holds it against his head. Spittle dribbles down his chin. He’s crying. His teeth clench together like the jaws of a vise.

Maw tries to push her way past the officer. “Assholes. Let me go. That’s my baby. Just talk to him. Put those guns away! You’re gonna hurt my precious little boy!”

Little Petey Paul quickly points the gun at Maw. “You bitch. Wouldn’t gimme no money for beer. I’m gonna kill you dead right here and now!”

The gun goes off.

Two shots.

BANG! BANG!

The officers have no choice. Each of them fired a couple of rounds. A second later, Little Petey Paul lies dead in the dirt and gravel with four small bullet holes marking his flesh. The officers each feel that sudden drop of adrenaline followed by the sinking, sickening, gut-wrenching sensation that comes with taking the life of another human. The second-guessing begins immediately. Their lives are forever changed, and not for the better. Possibly ruined.

“My little baby! Why didn’t you just talk to him. You didn’t have to kill him!” Maw screams, and then begins punching, kicking, and clawing at the officer’s face. The rest of the clan pours out of the house—Pa, Andy, Sandy, Randy, Candy, Tandy, Mandy, Handy, Pandy, and Earl, Jr. They’re screaming and struggling with the officers. Back up arrives to help quell the escalating disturbance.

“All you had to do is talk to the boy,” Pa says. “Maw knowed how to handle him. Talk to ’em is all you had to do … He’s such a good boy.”

I guess the point to ponder here is, well, don’t call a plumber if you don’t want your leak fixed.

Dreams and even nightmares are often great fodder for a story or scene. Sometimes, though, those nocturnal fantasies are absolutely bizarre and offer no help whatsoever. Not even a tiny twist for an ending.

A questionable murder (above image), to say the least, is a perfect example of the gaggle of “punctual” characters who, for some reason, show up in my mind from time to time. However, these guys often come to me while my eyes are open and I’m wide-freakin-awake. Yep, my brain is a weird one. So are the things found inside my ever-working twisted mind. Such as …
 

The renowned 100-yard Em Dash

The em dash is perhaps the most versatile of all punctuation marks.


 

Whatcha’ gonna do ’bout the puppies?

Colon owners consider semi-colons as mixed breeds, therefore they prefer to keep the two apart. This is to prevent an unfortunate encounter that could result in large litters of periods and commas.

Unfortunate encounters produce large litters of periods and commas.


 

Do you have your ellipses glasses?

Punctuation marks have been known (in my mind) to join together to wreak havoc on the weather.

Periods, in teams of three, attack the sun.


 

Braces for Junior

Braces are also known as curly brackets “{ }”.


 

Quotation Marks have places to go!

Commas and periods always go inside the quotation marks in American English; dashes, colons, and semicolons almost always go outside the quotation marks; question marks and exclamation marks sometimes go inside, sometimes stay outside. ~ Grammerly

 
Stop Shouting

In my mind, everyone gets to speak, and to ask questions, without being shouted down. Everyone …


 

Too many questions …

 

Cops truly see and experience the odd, weird, and often dark side of society, and this experience is not limited to dealing with criminals and all the lovely things bad guys offer their communities. For example:

  • The preacher who killed his lover, a woman married to another man. The reverend shot her dead because because she was sleeping with another man, a fellow who was also not her husband. During the fit of jealous rage the murdering minister also killed the “other man.”
  • While checking what was thought to be an abandoned vehicle parked at the end of a deserted, cracked asphalt stretch of dead-end country road, a deputy was surprised when he discovered a local government mental health professional inside the car engaged in frantic sexual activity with a young girl under the age of 17. One of the official duties of the professional person was to counsel victims of sexual abuse.
  • A 911 call from an area by-the-hour motel led law enforcement officers to a room rented by a known prostitute. She dialed the police when her “client” began to get a bit too rough for her liking. The client was a prominent business leader who also taught Sunday School at his church.
  • A probation officer was shot to death when he was caught having sex with a probationer’s girlfriend. The recently released offender arrived home early from work, discovered the pair in bed, and then quickly grabbed a gun and proceeded to fire rounds at the man who was in charge of his supervised release. Well, the shooter’s aim was pretty good because he shot the nude man in the back as he climbed out of the couple’s bedroom window with his clothing in hand.

The probation officer managed to stumble a few steps before collapsing onto the sidewalk. When police arrived they found the probation officer’s naked body curled in a fetal position. Lying next to him were his clothing, including the shiny badge that was still attached to his belt.

  • While working graveyard shift, an officer parked his patrol car on a side street where he began to complete a bit of paperwork. While there he witnessed a state law enforcement agent park his government vehicle in a dark area of a neighborhood. The agent opened the car door and shut is slowly and quietly and then trotted to the side door of a house. The door opened and a woman let him inside. The woman was the wife of a corrections officer who worked night shift at a prison. The agent’s wife who was most likely at home asleep, had no idea that her husband was cheating with one of her friends.
  • While running radar late at night on a lonely stretch of highway, an officer stopped a car that was swerving from side to side. When the officer had a look inside the vehicle he saw that the male driver wore a corrections uniform.  His passenger, a totally nude (male), was handcuffed to the car door. His corrections uniform was on the backseat in a crumpled pile. The pair of COs said they were merely out for a late night, relaxing drive to unwind after finishing their shift at the prison.
20 things bad guys

Bad guys say the darndest things, especially when operating their mouth parts while under the influence of alcohol, coke, or meth. Here are some of the things the little darlings said to me over the years. Use your imagination to determine my response(s).

1. “Pepper spray me. Go ahead, I dare you. Spray me.”

2. “I’ll kill your family.”

3. “I know where you live.”

4. “You think you’re man enough?” … “You’re breaking my arm! Ouch! Ouch! I give up! Ouch!”

5. “I’m not getting out of my car, and you can’t make me.”

Well, I could, and I did. For details, please read my article, “It’s Christmas, So Let’s Pull a Fat Guy Through a Car Window.”

6. “I’ve got a gun.”

7. “You’re not big enough to put me in that police car.”

8. “Don’t put your hands on me.”

9. “You won’t live long enough to put those handcuffs on me, you son of a bit**h” Twenty minutes later … “Could you please please loosen these cuffs? They’re hurting my wrists.”

10. As he rips off his shirt and flexes, while backing up … “You don’t want none of this.”

“You don’t want none of this!”

11. “If I ever catch you out of uniform, I’ll …”

12. “Does your dog bite? AHHHHH!! Get him off! Get him off!!

13. “If you think that fancy nightstick will stop me, th…”

14. “Yeah, what are you going to do if you catch me?”

15. “You’re going to have to come in and get me.”

16. “I’m not scared of you or your dog. I don’t care if it is a rottweiler.

17. “You can’t arrest me. I play golf with your boss.”

18. “You can’t prove none of that.”

19. “I’m glad you’re the one who caught me. We’re friends, right?”

20. While working undercover narcotics. You have to tell the truth when I ask if you’re a cop, right?”

The list, my friends, is endless. As is the stupidity of many.

 

I wrote this back in October of 2016, long before I knew of today’s turbulent times. Who knew …

You and I

We grew up together, you and I.

I attended kindergarten with you and your friends.

I played football and freeze tag and hide and seek with you and your cousins.

We were like family.

We hung out together at the drug store, reading comic books and eating ice cream cones.

I was at your sixteenth birthday party and you were at mine.

You and I and our friends had a blast at the prom.

I remember when your brother joined the military and went off to war.

I was there when the news came that he wouldn’t be returning home.

I sat with you on the front porch, listening as you remembered the good old days.

You cried and I never told anyone that you did.

We went away to college and remained friends, even though we were many miles apart.

You and I both married our childhood sweethearts.

You went to work for a big company.

You mom died and I traveled a long ways to be by your side.

Because that’s what we did, you and I.

My father passed away and you were there for me.

After college you returned and went to work for a big company.

I became a cop.

Then you hated me.

Why?

Was it because of my uniform?

My gun?

That my job was to enforce the law?

I didn’t make the rules.

Heck, I don’t even like some of them.

But it’s my job.

Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t like several of your company’s products and rules and policies.

But when one of your coworkers tells me to not touch something or that I may not go “out” the “in” door, I listen and do as asked.

But, even when I don’t agree with your company’s rules I don’t throw rocks at you and your fellow employees.

I don’t run to social media and post despicable things about you and your family.

I don’t write that you and your wife and kids should all die.

I don’t encourage the world to attack you.

I don’t go to your parking lot and overturn and set fire to your cars.

I don’t shoot at you, or punch and kick or spit on you.

I don’t kill your friends simply because of the suits they wear, or because one of your office mates did something despicably wrong.

I don’t trap you and your coworkers inside your office building and then set fire to the place because a heartless guy on the opposite side of the country killed a man.

I don’t toss deadly explosives at you and your fellow work mates simply because of your choice of employment, or because I disagree with the rules.

No, I didn’t make the rules. Not a single one of them.

I’m just a guy doing a job, a job I happen to love.

The vast majority of the laws of our country were in place long before I first pinned a badge to my shirt.

I’m still the same guy you hung out with in high school.

I’m still the same guy who drove you home from the party after you’d had one too many drinks.

I’m still the same guy who played catch with you in my front yard for hours on Saturday afternoons.

I’m still the same guy who made you laugh with my Daffy Duck imitations.

I’m still the guy who stood beside you the day you married the love of your life.

Why did “you and I” become “you against me?”

What happened?

And why?

Because I’m still the same guy.

I just happen to wear a uniform when I go to work.

I’m a cop and I love my job and I still help people, even when they hate me.

I still help people while dodging those rocks, bottles, bullets, and insults.

I still think about the days when we were close.

And I’ll still come if you call.

Even though you hate me,

Merely because I’m a cop.

We’re still the same guys.

Who wear a different set of clothes.

Inside, though,

It’s us …

Guys who were once best friends,

You and I.

Due to a a couple of serious illnesses in our family, I will be taking a break from the blog for a few days and maybe slightly longer. I’ve tried to write something for the past couple of days but my mind wanders back to our loved ones, Denene’s mother and Ellen, our daughter.

As many of you know, they were each diagnosed with serious cancer just weeks apart  approximately three years ago. Denene’s mom has been receiving chemo for the entire three years, along with a couple of emergency surgeries. Three weeks ago she was rushed to a Raleigh hospital where she underwent another surgery. She has been extremely ill since and has had to pause her much-needed chemo treatments.

We’d hoped to travel there to visit with her for a few days, but COVID concerns have not made it possible for us to do so. She’s ill and I take medication that greatly suppresses my immune system. Denene and I have not left our property since March, with the exception of a very brief ride in he countryside just to see civilization again.

Then the big whammy hit this week. Ellen called me one night to say she was experiencing severe abdominal pains so her husband was taking her to the ER. There or four hours later she texted a message to me that sent my heart to the floor. Her cancer had returned and it was far worse than before.

I Am Crushed. Numb. Heartbroken. Devastated. And Helpless.

So please forgive me for neglecting this blog, MurderCon, responses to emails, etc. I need time to process, to hold back tears and even to shed a few, and to pray for our daughter and my mother-in law. My thoughts are scattered and bounce around inside my head like rubber balls. Emotions are all over the place.

It’s not been a good year for any of us, and I feel quite selfish for just days ago hoping to see enough Virtual MurderCon registrations to save the event from sinking lower than the Titanic. Right now, well, my mind is on the pain I heard in my daughter’s voice when I spoke with her by phone this afternoon.

Ellen had beaten the odds before, after enduring emergency life-saving surgeries and chemo and radiation, sickness, hair loss, extreme pain, memory loss, and more, and then their home was totally destroyed by fire not long after she rang the bell celebrating her last chemo treatment. They lost everything they owned, but thanks to many of you they pulled themselves together and found and fixed up a small home. Then, Ellen’s husband lost his job due to COVID restrictions.

Your generosity and kindness has much appreciated and needed.

Tyler, our grandson, is scheduled to head to college in three weeks, a few days after his mom sits to receive the first of many aggressive chemo treatments, and radiation. It’s tough enough to start college without having such a huge weight resting on his shoulders. He’s a remarkable young man who, during all the hardships he faced, continued to maintain his grades and compete as a champion wrestler who earned his pick of scholarships at colleges around the country.

Anyway, this where I am right now, wandering around aimlessly and unable to concentrate. I humbly ask that you please stick with me. I’ll return here as often as I’m able.

In the meantime, kind thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes are appreciated.

Thank you,

Lee

Fighting Dinosaurs

Graduating from the police academy is an experience all its own. And, after many weeks of what some recruits equate to a brief period of time spent in hell on earth, receiving the paper that makes it official, that you are indeed a bona-fide law enforcement officer is nothing short of a warm and fuzzy kind of moment.

There’s a huge amount of pride attached to the actual ceremony, as well as a great sense of accomplishment. Make no mistake about it, police academy training, while fun at times, can be extremely stressful, and taxing on muscles and mind. Therefore, when you’re finally holding paper in-hand and a shiny badge tightly pinned to your shirt, all you want to do is Par-Tay! And that’s exactly what I and my fellow recruits had in mind the night of our academy graduation. Unfortunately, my celebration was to be short-lived.

My boss, a gruff, no-nonsense sheriff, attended the ceremony along with his wife, who was also a no-nonsense gruff and never-smiling person. The sheriff sat beside me during the banquet, with his charming wife to his right, and we enjoyed a very pleasant conversation between bites of some pretty tasty food. Midway through the meal, during my suave and fascinating conversation, the high-sheriff, while alternating between shoveling forkfuls of red meat meat and potatoes into the opening in his face that sat squarely between a pair of sagging jowls, turned toward me to ask, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name. Which department do you work for?”

After letting his surprising comments sink in for a quick moment, I realized he had no idea that I worked for him. I was one of his deputies. The latest model, actually. Freshly trained and well-exercised, and as eager to get to work as they come.

When I explained to my new boss that he was, in fact, my boss, he half-heartedly pretended that the whole thing had been a joke. Obviously, it was not. But I didn’t intend to waste the situation. Not at all.  Nope, I had his attention and I planned to make the most of it.

In fact, II took the opportunity to discuss my future—when I’d begin my field training program (upon completion of academy training officers then receive on-the-job, hands-on training while riding with a certified field training officer), how long before I’d make detective and/or possibly the second in command of the entire department, etc.

Well, he matter-of-factly brushed aside my lofty aspirations, gulped a big ole shot of straight bourbon, and calmly retrieved a folded sheet of paper from the inside pocket of his suit jacket. He then handed the paper—a copy of the patrol schedule—to me while reloading his beefy jowls with heaping forkfuls of red velvet cake.

The patrol schedule was the monthly assignment for the law enforcement deputies within his department—the police officers. All other deputies worked in the jail, courts, serving civil process, etc.. Then, between a couple of lip-smacking chews and another swallow of liquor, he said, “You’re working midnights, starting tonight.” I was both shocked and elated to learn that I’d hit the streets so quickly.

Everyone knows that midnight shift is normally considered the kiss of death. However, to a brand new rookie, even a graveyard shift assignment is as welcome and almost as exciting as a weekend at the Writers’ Police Academy. After all, you’re absolutely itching to bust the largest criminal enterprise known to cops worldwide.

But reality set in as I glanced at the clock on the wall, noticing that it was already nearly 10 p.m., and I hadn’t had any sleep. Didn’t matter, though. I was excited. Then the sheriff delivered even more “good” news. I’d be working the entire county, alone. A.L.O.N.E.

“What about my field training?” I said.

“No time. I’m short-handed,” he said. “If you run into any trouble call the state police. They’ll help out. Just don’t do anything stupid.”

The sheriff then stood, shook my hand, looked toward Mrs. Sheriff and nodded at the door. In another second they were gone, leaving me standing there holding the schedule in my hand. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be celebrating with my friends, but excited about going to work. But mostly, though, I was as nervous as a June bug at a chicken convention.

Two hours later I stood before a group of midnight shift dispatchers, jailers, and office staff. In all their years working there they’d never seen a “kid” fresh out of the academy hit the streets alone his first night out. I saw the fear in their eyes. I sensed the trepidation. I was flattered, of course, thinking they were worried about me, until I realized their concern was actually for the citizens of the county. I was their only defense against the evils of the world. And, as the sheriff’s office chain of command structure went, the ranking patrol deputy was in charge of the entire shift, jail included.

So yeah, I, on the job for only a matter of minutes, was in charge.

So I bid farewell to each of them and headed out into the dark and stormy night. Actually, it was a nice and bright late summer night. To me, though, it seemed as if I were a character in a bad novel with a really bad opening hook. “The deputy pushed open the door, determined to rid his county of evil zombies, mobsters, werewolves, and serial killers. Yes, he alone would save the world from death, doom, and destruction.”

My excitement was brimming over as I cruised the lonely, dark county roads, occasionally driving through well-lit parking lots, waving to night-shift clerks. I stopped in a few places to chat with employees and customers, but mostly my goal was to allow people to see me in my brand new uniform while driving my brand new patrol car with a brand new badge and name tag pinned to my chest. It was fun. I even played with the lights and siren a few times when I was on long, deserted stretches of roadway where I was sure no one was around to see or hear.

Then it happened. Two hours into my first shift, just when I felt as if I was riding on a cloud, I received my first call. “Fight in progress at Tommy Terrible’s Truck Stop. Weapons involved.” The fun melted from my face as quickly as a Kardashian can post an image to Instagram. It was lights and siren time for real.

So, as they say, I activated my emergency equipment (lights and siren) for real and soon turned into the truck stop parking lot where I saw what appeared (to me) to be two rather large dinosaurs going at it—fists swinging from every angle possible, and connecting with what appeared to be the force of the pile drivers used to construct bridges.

I sat there for a second with the engine idling, re-living the past several weeks of training. Hostage situation…check. Robberies…check. Kidnapping…check. Pursuit driving…check. Shooting range…check. Stepping between two monsters who’re engaged in the worst fight I’ve ever seen. Hmm … no class for that one.

I decided to drive my car as close to the pair as I could get, after calling the state police for assistance. (The closest trooper was twenty minutes away). Then I let off a nice blast from my siren. It worked. They stopped fighting and looked my way, so I stepped out of my car on legs that were quivering like a heaping mound of Jello during a California earthquake.

I attempted to talk to the two gentlemen since, at this point in my hours-long career, I had no clue if I should, or even could arrest either of them. So, and to protect my body from receiving a large number of painful injuries, I did the next best thing. I let one go inside the truck stop to have a cup of coffee, and I drove the other guy home.

On the way, I learned that it was his birthday and that he’d had a little too much to drink (duh). Being the quick thinker that I am, I jumped on the opportunity and told him that I’d let him off this time only because it was his birthday. However, the next time, well, I’d have to take him to jail. Sounded good to me, right? He didn’t need to know I was winging my way through this thing.

When I pulled up in front of the man’s modest trailer home, he shook my hand (his right hand, the equivalent of a giant oven mitt made of steel, gristle, and rhino hide, easily wrapped around mine) and thanked me for the ride and for not making him spend his birthday night in jail.

I waited as he worked his way around a variety of obstacles—rusted bicycles, an engine from a car that was nowhere to seen, home made plywood yard ornaments—a chubby woman bending over in the garden, a duck in a pole whose wings spun wildly in the wind, a life-size silhouette of a cowboy smoking a pipe—, an engine from a car that was nowhere to be seen, and a three-legged mixed breed dog attached to the mobile home by a logging chain.

He, the man, not the dog, used the back of a meaty fist to pound on the aluminum front door until the porch light, a yellow anti-bug lamp, switched on. A woman wearing a three-sizes-too-big NASCAR RULES t-shirt pushed open the door and immediately began to curse, between, of course, puffs on the unfiltered cigarette that dangled from her lips. I was amazed at how the cigarette clung to her lower lip even as she opened her mouth to yell. Finally, he gave her a slight shove and they both disappeared inside the metal box they called home. I exhaled, and then spent the next few hours patrolling the county while thinking of various defensive tactics techniques and drawing the mace container from my gun belt.

Probably not the prettiest conclusion to my first call, but it was a solution that actually paid off for me many times in the years to follow. You see, the guy I took home (I didn’t know it at the time) was an exceptionally good street fighter, a sort of legend in that area among the local police because it normally took four or five officers to handcuff and arrest him. At the time, I did not know how lucky I’d been.

Since that night, I’d been called to numerous fight scenes where this fellow had pummeled his opponents, smashing their bloody faces into barroom floors, walls, and tables all across the county and city. He’d sent a few police officers to the emergency room for various cuts, bruises, and broken body parts. He’d even tossed one rather large bouncer through a glass door. But, whenever I showed up he simply stopped fighting and walked to my car where he’d have a seat, ready for the drive to the county jail.

I guess the big man felt as if he owed me for not arresting him on his birthday. However, those easy-going feelings later changed, and that night, when he decided quite forcefully to not allow me to arrest him, was the night I introduced his forehead to my metal flashlight.

So that was my first night on the job. How was yours?

I wrote this four years ago. Am I psychic, or does history truly repeat itself?

 

A Vicious Circle

 

Trouble

Kids Die

Gangs High Crime

Rape, Cocaine Bloody Murder

Burglary Assault Robbery Carjacking

Increased Patrol Stop and Frisk Illegal Weapons

More Officers Canines Large Police Presence Crime Reduces

Less Guns on Street Safer for Officers and Public Businesses Flourish

Neighborhood Secure Residents Happy Fewer Deaths Kids Play

Police are Scary! Protesters and Politicians Complain

Angry Crowds Burning Looting Destruction

Officers Beaten Battered and Killed

Rape Cocaine Bloody Murder

Gangs High Crime

Kids Die

Trouble.

 

And so it goes …

It was 40 years ago today when the north slope of Mt. St. Helens exploded, sending a plume of ash 15 miles high, ash that would soon enter the jet stream and travel around the world.

The top 1,300 feet of the mountain was gone in a flash.

Miles and miles of majestic fir trees were leveled by the blast

Eighty-three-year-old Harry R. Truman, owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake, near the foot of the mountain, refused to leave his home when authorities alerted him to the potential eruption. He, along with his 16 cats, are believed to have been killed in less than a second due to heat shock generated when the mountain blew. Their bodies instantly vaporized and the spot where they once were was then buried in 150 feet of landslide debris.

Fifty-six others also died that day.

Several years later, Denene and I visited Mt. St. Helens during a time when a new, rising lava dome suddenly began to form in the mountain’s jagged, gaping mouth. Occasionally it belched billowing plumes of steam as proof of the fire in its belly.

I often think about our trip to the eerie, yet tranquil volcano that unleashed the firestorm of devastation that destroyed vegetation and wildlife for miles. It consumed an entire lake.

The place reminds me of the corner of my mind where I go to when I want to be alone, the place where there are no sounds to disturb my thoughts. No movement to distract my imagination. It’s the place where I’m certain that Alfred Hitchcock, Poe, and Stephen King are each somehow connected. It’s the gate to the real-life Twilight Zone. The muse of all muses.

We saw signs of returning life nearly thirty years after the 1980 eruption—small flowers, young trees, grasses, and even a darting field mouse and a screeching hawk. But the thousands upon thousands of dead trees, all lying on their side-by-side and end-to-end, like rows and columns of matchsticks, all facing the same direction as a result of the blast, well, they’re a reminder of just how small and insignificant we humans really are.

A bit of Mt. St. Helens sits on a shelf in my office—two once molten rocks and a small chunk of Douglas fir that survived the blast.

Today I’d like to recognize a few of the folks who donate their valuable time to help with the writing of this blog. They show up each day with a strong desire to help writers deliver realism to their work. So, without further ado, here are a few of the characters who live at the tip of my pencil.

ZZ Cops

Deputy D. Roopy

Mike Media

Wesley Weiner

Paul Print

Carl Cricket

Peter Pepperspray

The Crying Cop

Billie Bluebird

Victor Villain

Ronnie the Rowdy Redneck

Ruben

The “Q-Tips”

White-haired retirees are sometimes referred to as Q-tips, because a group of the retirees stacked together in a sedan resemble Q-tips when observed by traffic officers patrolling the main drug corridors.

Bugsy

Captain Mark Question

Hillbilly Hank

Chuck the Chicken Thief

Fred Fly

Dee En A

The Old Man at the End of the Street

The Jail Birds

C. Pappy

The Gang at Bacteria Beach

Connie Cow and the Judge 

Earl

Wally Whistler

As always thanks to each of the characters who stop by to offer their expertise. I’d be lost without them and their valuable insight. And, they’re sometimes quick to alert me to sudden danger.

By the way, the fellow at the top of the page … well, that’s Sleeping Sam.